Tag Archives: Bible

Charles Spurgeon – The carnal mind

 

“The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Romans 8:7

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 5:6-11

Let me suppose an impossible case for a moment. Let me imagine a man entering heaven without a change of heart. He comes within the gates. He hears a sonnet. He starts! It is to the praise of his enemy. He sees a throne, and on it sits one who is glorious; but it is his enemy. He walks streets of gold, but those streets belong to his enemy. He sees hosts of angels; but those are the servants of his enemy. He is in an enemy’s house; for he is at enmity with God. He could not join the song, for he would not know the tune. There he would stand; silent, motionless; till Christ should say, with a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, “What doest thou here? Enemies at a marriage banquet? Enemies in the children’s house? Enemies in heaven? Get thee gone! Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell!” Oh! sirs, if the unregenerate man could enter heaven, I mention once more the oft-repeated saying of Whitefield, he would be so unhappy in heaven, that he would ask God to let him run down into hell for shelter. There must be a change, if you consider the future state; for how can enemies to God ever sit down at the banquet of the Lamb? And to conclude, let me remind you—and it is in the text after all—that this change must be worked by a power beyond your own. An enemy may possibly make himself a friend, but enmity cannot. If it be but an adjunct of his nature to be an enemy he may change himself into a friend; but if it is the very essence of his existence to be enmity, positive enmity, enmity cannot change itself. No, there must be something done more than we can accomplish.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ has done for us much more than he commanded his disciples to do for their enemies (Luke 6:27-28).

Sermon no. 20

21 April (Preached 22 April 1855)

John MacArthur – The Cushion of Peace

 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

I remember reading about what is called “the cushion of the sea.” The ocean surface is often greatly agitated, but as you descend, the water becomes increasingly calm. At its greatest depths the ocean is virtually still. Oceanographers dredging ocean bottoms have found animal and plant remains that appear to have been undisturbed for hundreds of years.

Similarly, Christians can experience a cushion of peace in their souls regardless of their troubled surroundings. That’s because they belong to God, who is the source of peace; serve Christ, who is the Prince of Peace; and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is the agent of peace. Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, [and] peace.” When you become a Christian, God grants you the gift of peace.

God is not only the source of perfect peace, but also its purest example. Everything He does is marked by peace. First Corinthians 14:33 says He is not a God of confusion but of peace. In Judges 6:24 He is called Jehovah-shalom, which means, “the Lord is peace.” The Trinity is characterized by a total absence of conflict: perfect oneness, perfect righteousness, and absolute harmony. It is impossible for God to be at odds with Himself!

God wants everyone to know that kind of peace. He created the world with peace and sent His Son to offer peace. Someday Christ will return to establish His kingdom and reign in peace for eternity.

In the meantime turmoil exists for all who don’t know Christ. They have no cushion for their souls. You, however, have peace with God through the death of Christ Jesus, and as you obey Him, His peace will continually reign in your heart. Don’t ever let sin rob you of that blessed cushion. Only as you experience peace within yourself can you share it with others.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the cushion of peace He has provided amid difficult circumstances.

Ask God to use you as an instrument of His peace today.

For Further Study:

Read Isaiah 57:15-21, noting how God encourages the repentant and warns the wicked in relation to peace.

Joyce Meyer – Be a Risk Taker

He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he gained five talents more. And likewise he who had received the two talents—he also gained two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. —Matthew 25:16–18

When Jim Burke became the head of a new products division at Johnson & Johnson, one of his first projects was the development of a children’s chest rub. The product failed miserably, and Burke expected that he would be fired. When he was called in to see the chairman of the board, however, he was met with a surprising reception.

“Are you the one who just cost us all that money?” asked Robert Wood Johnson. “Well, I just want to congratulate you. If you are making mistakes, that means you are taking risks, and we won’t grow unless you take risks.” Some years later, when Burke himself became chairman of Johnson & Johnson, he continued to spread that word.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You will never succeed without making mistakes and possibly many of them. Making mistakes is something we do as human beings, but we are still God’s children, and He has a good plan for our lives. He is long-suffering, plenteous in mercy, and filled with loving kindness.

Lord, help me to use the talents You have given me and to not be afraid of making mistakes. Give me wisdom on how to be the best I can be for You. Amen.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – All Men Know What God Wants Them to Do

 

“But this is the new agreement I will make with the people of Israel, says the Lord: I will write my laws in their minds so that they will know what I want them to do without My even telling them, and these laws will be in their hearts so that they will want to obey them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people” (Hebrews 8:10).

Harry boasted that he was an atheist, that he could not believe in God – that there was no such thing as right and wrong. But as we counseled together, it became apparent that he lived a very immoral life, and the only way he could justify his conduct was to rationalize away the existence of God.

This he was unable to do. As God’s Word reminds us, His law is written in our minds, so that we will know what He wants us to do without His even telling us.

A very honest, frank, straightforward counseling session helped Harry to see that he was living a lie, a life of deceit and shame. All of this resulted in making him a very miserable person until he surrendered his life to Christ and became an honest, authentic, transparent disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible says that the mind of natural man is essentially disgusting (Ezekiel 23:17-22), despiteful (Ezekiel 36:5), depraved (Romans 1:28), hardened (2 Corinthians 3:14), hostile (Colossians 1:21) and defiled (Titus 1:15).

In contrast, the Scriptures show that the mind of the Christian is willing (1 Chronicles 28:9), is at peace (Romans 8:6), is renewed (Romans 12: 2), can know Christ’s mind (I. Corinthians 2:16) and can be obedient (Hebrews 8:10).

Our minds are susceptible to the influence of our old sin- nature and, as such, can pose some dangers to us. As soon as we get out of step spiritually with the Holy Spirit and get our focus off the Lord, our minds begin to give us trouble.

Bible Reading: Hebrews 8:7-13

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  Claiming by faith the help of the Holy Spirit, I will discipline my mind to think God’s thoughts as expressed in His holy, inspired Word. In this way, I can be assured of knowing and doing His perfect will.

Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – Unlikely Trio

 

“One of these things is not like the others…” This line from a popular song on the Sesame Street television show prompts children to point out the item distinctive from the rest. Perhaps a lawnmower is displayed amid a screen full of fruit. Kids learn how to compare and contrast.

In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness. Psalm 45:4

One look at today’s verse may have you singing that tune. Why? When Christ rides out victoriously for truth and righteousness, meekness may, at first, seem like the lawnmower among the fruit. Many mistakenly assume meek means weak. But Christ was anything but weak. Meekness is humility with self-control. Self-control requires great strength. Christ said, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29)

Christians are often quick to stand up for truth and righteousness, but struggle with humility. While they may seem an unlikely trio, truth and righteousness should be given with a gentle and lowly heart. Like the kids watching Sesame Street, you can learn from this passage. Ask God to help you dispense truth with meekness instead of pride. Pray, too, for your nation’s leaders to be filled with a humble spirit and a desire for truth.

Recommended Reading: James 3:13-18

Charles Stanley – God Calls in Various Ways

 

1 Samuel 3:1-21

When you hear the phrase “call of God,” what comes to mind? Many people assume it refers only to God’s call upon the lives of professional ministers. This could not be further from truth. The Lord issues no fewer than four specific calls to every single believer.

First, we are given the call to salvation. This is how God establishes a personal relationship with us. Today’s passage shows the poignant way in which God introduced Himself to young Samuel. He also reveals Himself to each of us in the wonders of nature all around us (Rom. 1:20).

Second, all believers experience the call to sanctification (Lev. 11:44). This is the Father summoning His children to experience godly living. Sanctification can be defined as being set apart—or made holy—for the purposes of God.

Third, every Christian receives the call to service. Scripture clearly reminds us that all believers—not just pastors and full-time missionaries—are called to serve the body of Christ and to spread the good news of salvation; each of us was “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). This means we all have specific and important tasks to accomplish.

Fourth, we all have the call to account- ability. The Bible teaches that each of us will one day stand before our Lord and give an account of our life. This is not something to fear if we are presently seeking to walk in His ways. Rather, it will be a time of great reward and rejoicing.

Make no mistake—our loving Father still speaks to His people. As you read His Word today, ask Him to make His call in your life clear.

Our Daily Bread — Wonderfully Made

 

Psalm 139:13-18

Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. —Psalm 139:14

While getting an eye exam recently, my doctor hauled out a piece of equipment that I hadn’t seen before. I asked him what the device was, and he responded, “I’m using it to take a picture of the inside of the back of your eye.”

I was impressed that someone had invented a camera that could do that. But I was even more impressed by what my doctor could learn from that picture. He said, “We can gather a lot of details about your current general health simply by looking at the back of your eye.”

My doctor’s comment amazed me. It is remarkable that a person’s overall health can be measured by the health of the eye. What care the Lord has taken to place these details in the bodies He has created! It immediately brings to my mind the words of David, the psalmist, who reveled in God’s creativity: “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Ps. 139:14).

The enormous complexities of our bodies reflect the genius and wisdom of our great Creator. The wonder of His design is more than breathtaking—it gives us countless reasons to worship Him! —Bill Crowder

Lord, we are in awe of You! Thank You that You

created us with such complexity and care

and that You know us with such intimacy.

We love You and trust You with our lives.

All life is created by God and bears His autograph.

Alistair Begg – Not Far From Home

 

That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death. Hebrews 2:14

Child of God, death has lost its sting, because the devil’s power over it is destroyed. Stop fearing death! Ask God the Holy Spirit to grant you an intimate knowledge and a firm belief in your Redeemer’s death, so that you may be strengthened for that journey. Living near the cross of Calvary, you may learn to think of death with pleasure and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is blessed to die in the Lord: It is a covenant blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment; it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones are already living. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not.

We are not far from home–a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will its voyage be? How many weary winds must beat upon the sail before it shall be berthed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be buffeted on the waves before it comes to that sea that knows no storm? Listen to the answer: “away from the body and at home with the Lord.”1 The ship has just departed, but it is already at its destination. It simply spread its sail, and it was there. Like that ship of old upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, “Peace, be still,” and immediately it came to land. Do not think that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth, they open in heaven. The chariots of fire are not an instant on the road.

So child of God, what is there for you to fear in death, seeing that through the death of your Lord Jesus its curse and sting are destroyed? And now it is like a Jacob’s ladder with its base in a dark grave, but with its top reaching to everlasting glory.

 

Charles Spurgeon – Final perseverance

 

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:26-39

God preserves his children from falling away; but he keeps them by the use of means; and one of these is, the terrors of the law, showing them what would happen if they were to fall away. There is a deep precipice: what is the best way to keep any one from going down there? Why, to tell him that if he did he would inevitably be dashed to pieces. In some old castle there is a deep cellar where there is a vast amount of stale air and gas which would kill anybody who went down. What does the guide say? “If you go down you will never come up alive.” Who thinks of going down? The very fact of the guide telling us what the consequences would be, keeps us from it. Our friend puts away from us a cup of arsenic; he does not want us to drink it, but he says, “If you drink it, it will kill you.” Does he suppose for a moment that we should drink it? No; he tells us the consequence, and he is sure we will not do it. So God says, “My child, if you fall over this precipice you will be dashed to pieces.” What does the child do? He says, “Father, keep me; hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” It leads the believer to greater dependence on God, to a holy fear and caution, because he knows that if he were to fall away he could not be renewed, and he stands far away from that great gulf, because he knows that if he were to fall into it there would be no salvation for him. It is calculated to excite fear; and this holy fear keeps the Christian from falling.

For meditation: God is the One who keeps us from falling (Jude 24), but he still tells us that we have some responsibility to keep ourselves in his love (Jude 21).

Sermon no. 75

20 April (1856)

John MacArthur – Becoming Pure in Heart

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

Purifying a heart is the gracious and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but there are some things we must do in response to His prompting. First, we must admit we can’t purify our own hearts. Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'” The implied answer: no one!

Next, we must put our faith in Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross is the basis for our cleansing. Acts 15:9 says that God cleanses hearts on the basis of faith. Of course our faith must be placed in the right object. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Finally, we must study the Bible and pray. The psalmist said we keep our way pure by keeping it according to God’s Word, which we must treasure in our hearts (Ps. 119:9, 11). As we pray and submit to the Word, the Spirit purifies our lives.

That’s how you acquire and maintain a pure heart. As a result you “shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). That doesn’t mean you’ll see Him with physical eyes, but with spiritual ones. You begin to live in His presence and become increasingly aware of His working in your life. You recognize His power and handiwork in the beauty and intricacy of creation (Ps. 19). You discern His grace and purposes amid trials and learn to praise Him in all things. You sense His ministry through other Christians and see His sovereignty in every event of your life. Life takes on a profound and eternal meaning as you share Christ with unbelievers and see Him transform lives.

There’s no greater joy than knowing you are pure before God and that your life is honoring to Him. May that joy be yours today and may God use you in a powerful way for His glory!

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask the Lord for continued grace to live a pure life so others will see Christ in you.

For Further Study:

Read Isaiah 6:1-8.

Describe Isaiah’s vision of God.

How did Isaiah respond to God’s presence?

 

Joyce Meyer – An Unfolding Relationship

 

The path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day [to be prepared]. —Proverbs 4:18

One of the best things about learning to hear God’s voice is that it is progressive. It is not a skill we master; it is an unfolding relationship we enjoy. As the relationship unfolds, we learn to communicate with Him more often, more deeply, and more effectively; we learn to follow the Holy Spirit more closely; we learn to pray with more confidence; and we learn to hear His voice more clearly.

Have you ever been happy in your relationship with God, feeling it was going well for a while and then, for no apparent reason, you start to feel restless, bored, distracted, or unsatisfied? Have you ever felt a nagging that something just was not right about your fellowship with God, or a stirring to do something differently? Most of the time, when you have such impressions, the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something.

Your inner man (your spirit, the part of you that communes with God) knows when something is not right in your prayer life, because the Holy Spirit lives in your spirit and will let you know when something needs to change in your relationship with God. You just need to be bold enough to follow the Spirit. God knows we are ready for more and is urging us on to a deeper place of communing with Him and hearing His voice. God is always on the move and He wants us to move with Him. Never be afraid to leave one way or method of doing something to press toward something new.

God’s word for you today: Remember, hearing God’s voice is not a skill; it’s a relationship.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Place of Privilege

 

“For because of our faith, He has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be” (Romans 5:2).

Interesting, is it not, that because of our faith, which is really His faith imparted to us, He has brought us, you and me, to a place of highest privilege.

What are some of the benefits that constitute this highest privilege?

First, we are justified – considered righteous in God’s sight.

Second, we are admitted into His favor and we abide there.

Third, we have the hope and prospect of even higher and richer blessings, in the fullness of His glory, when we are admitted into heaven.

Strange, then, that you and I often chafe at the bit when things become a little rough. At such time as that, I need to remind myself that I do not deserve any better. All the mercies and blessings of God are undeserved – gifts of God’s grace (“God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense,” as the apt acrostic expresses it).

What, really, is the “bottom line” of everything that happens to the believer – to you and me? After confessing that we are receiving our just deserts, we must always go back to the all-inclusive promise: “All things are working together for our good.” They may not feel good, they may not seem good, they may not even be good, but they are accomplishing good in us.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:8-12

TODAY’S ACTION POINT:  I will meditate on the rare and high privilege that is mine as a child of God and look forward to becoming all that God wants me to be.

Presidential Prayer Team; H.R. – Astounding

 

People were in shock after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. Then-President Reagan consoled Americans with these words: “The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The Lord.” Exodus 33:19

In today’s verse, Moses saw God but was not permitted to see His face. Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, writes: “To see God’s face was utterly unthinkable. That’s why when we’re told in Revelation 22:4 that we’ll see God’s face, it should astound us.”

If you know Jesus Christ personally, you have the hope you will one day be in God’s presence and see Him face to face. Ask God for opportunities to share that hope with others so they may experience that astounding joy. Then pray that the nation’s leaders, especially President Obama and his cabinet members, would seek God in their personal and public decisions.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 27:4-14

Charles Stanley – Hearing When God Calls

 

1 Kings 19:11-13

Do you think of the Lord as a power or a person? Witnessing His mighty power is certainly important if we are to trust God’s ability to achieve His will. But unless we have a personal connection with the heavenly Father, we could lose sight of why He concerns Himself with us at all.

In today’s passage, we find the prophet Elijah struggling with those two aspects of his relationship with the Lord. Just one chapter earlier, he had experienced the triumph of God’s awesome power in a showdown with hundreds of false prophets (18:17-40). Immediately after that, however, Elijah feared for his life and fled. The prophet intellectually knew that the Sovereign of the universe was more than capable of protecting him. But fear for his life had driven a wedge between his understanding of God’s power and his awareness of God’s personal interest and intimacy. The result was that Elijah ran away.

He came to Mount Horeb, where he waited for God to pass by. Then, three powerful forces of nature came upon that spot in quick succession. Yet the prophet knew God was not in those dramatic occurrences. After the wind, earthquake, and fire had passed, Elijah heard a faint, gentle blowing. He recognized immediately that it was God and thereby discovered his Lord in a new and intimate way, right in the midst of that light breeze.

Are you intently listening for the quiet voice of God? Or do often you find yourself distracted by the dramatic forces pulling at you and clamoring for attention? Ask your heavenly Father to subdue the noise so you can learn to detect His soft, life-changing whisper.

Our Daily Bread — Strengthened Through Suffering

 

1 Peter 5:1-11

May the God of all grace, . . . after you have suffered a while, . . . strengthen, and settle you. —1 Peter 5:10

Church services often end with a benediction. A common one is taken from Peter’s concluding remarks in his first epistle: “May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10). Sometimes omitted in the benediction is the phrase “after you have suffered a while.” Why? Perhaps because it is not pleasant to speak of suffering.

It should not surprise us, however, when suffering comes our way. The apostle Paul, who knew well what it was to suffer, wrote: “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).

If we live a life of submission to God (1 Peter 5:6) and resisting the devil (v.9), we can expect to be maligned, misunderstood, and even taken advantage of. But the apostle Peter says that there is a purpose for such suffering. It is to “restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (v.10 NIV).

God’s path for our Christian growth often leads us through difficulties, but they fortify us to withstand life’s future storms. May God help us to be faithful as we seek to boldly live a life that honors Him. —C. P. Hia

Forbid it, Lord, that I should be

Afraid of persecution’s frown;

For Thou hast promised faithful ones

That they shall wear the victor’s crown. —Bosch

When God would make us strong He schools us through hardships.

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Clinging to Straw

 

On a routine trip through well-worn streets, I found myself pulled out of the fragmented consciousness of a mind captive to the day’s worries with the jarring lyrics of a song. Up until that point, the song itself was much like the familiar patterns of scenery, an external factor impervious to the siege of my own fears; I was seeing but not seeing, hearing but not really hearing. But then I suddenly took in the artist’s abrupt words: “Hoping to God on high is like clinging to straws while drowning.”(1)

The stark image of clinging to straw cleared everything else from my mind. It also set me thinking about the descriptive words of a friend hours earlier. Encouraging me in the midst of a difficult place, a friend simply reminded me that I was not alone. She was intending to assure me of her friendship and support, but I also knew she was assuring me of the presence of God. “The LORD is near to all who call on him,” declares the psalmist; and I needed to hear it.

There are many who take comfort in the thought that God is among us, comforting our fears, quieting our cries of distress, standing near those who call, moving in lives and history that we might discover the God who is there. As a following of Christ, knowing that he is with me in struggle and darkness is one of the only reasons I don’t completely surrender to my fears and stop moving forward. Knowing that there is a kingdom of grace, beauty, and mystery is the hope I remember when I fear death, my console when I fear uncertainty, the picture that somehow makes sense of a strand of DNA and quiets my fear of being uncared for and alone. I can relate to the resolution of the psalmist in a world of many and distant gods: “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge” (73:28).

But what good is it if there is a throne but it is empty, a kingdom without a king, a god who is close but like straw?  Who is it who is near us? If god is an impersonal force, or a tyrant, or a distant, semi-interested being, the kingdom is no refuge. If the hope we cling to is like straw that cannot save us from drowning, we have good reason to live in fear, “huddled,” as the musician later described, “afraid if we dance we might die.”

The image that brought my distraction to a grinding halt forced me to think graphically about the hope to which a Christian really clings, that promise that is so often on the mouth of God in Scripture: Do not be afraid, for I am with you.(2) If God on high is merely straw and fairytale, then emptiness is inevitable, fear is certain, and hope is futile, for we are ultimately alone. We all cling futilely to fantasy and drown in delusion. Could there really be one both graceful and near enough to answer the cry of a lonely heart, the fears of an entire nation, the uncertainties of the world around?

Throughout Scripture that very divine vow “I am with you” is made with sovereign confidence, but also in stirring circumstance. Speaking into the fears of exile, God said to the prophet Isaiah, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.” To the apostle Paul who was struggling with uncertainty and weakness, the divine voice encouraged him in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” And Jesus even as he anticipated the nearing cross gave his closest followers a promise that remains comforting today:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(3)

The promise of God’s nearness is one that Christians rightfully utter as encouragement and cling to in joy, in fear, and in sorrow, knowing the face and character of the one who is near. When God assures of with a self-revealing presence, it is more than just a promise of proximity and intimacy. There is a purpose for God’s nearness, the pledge of relationship, the promise of community. It is not an empty or superficial presence, having taken on the things humanity itself to draw intimately near. As the Father reminded the prophet Jeremiah so God attests, the promise of proximity may well be far more profound than we even fathom: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…Do not be afraid…for I am with you to deliver you” (1:5-8).

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Dave Matthews Band, “What You Are,” Everyday, 2001.

(2) Genesis 26:24, 2 Chronicles 20:17, Isaiah 43:5, Daniel 10:12, Matthew 1:20, John 14:27, Acts 18:9-10, and Revelation 1:17 among many others.

(3) Isaiah 43:5, Acts 18:9-10, John 14:27.

Alistair Begg – Torn in Two

 

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Matthew 27:51

No small miracle was performed in the tearing of so strong and thick a curtain; but it was not intended merely as a display of power–many lessons were contained in it.

The old law of ordinances was put away and, like a worn-out garment, torn and set aside. When Jesus died, the sacrifices were all finished, because they were fulfilled in Him; and therefore the place of sacrifice, the temple, was marked with a clear sign of this change.

With the curtain torn, all the hidden things of the old dispensation became apparent: The mercy-seat could now be seen, and the glory of God gleaming above it. By the death of our Lord Jesus we have a clear revelation of God, for He was “not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face.” Life and immortality are now brought to light, and things that have been hidden since the foundation of the world are displayed in Him.

The annual ceremony of atonement was also abolished. The atoning blood that once every year was sprinkled inside the curtain was now offered once for all by the great High Priest, and therefore the place of the symbolical rite was finished. No blood of bullocks or of lambs is needed now, for Jesus has entered inside the curtain with his own blood.

Therefore access to God is now permitted and is the privilege of every believer in Christ Jesus. It is not just a small opening through which we may peer at the mercy-seat, but the tear reaches from the top to the bottom. We may come with boldness to the throne of heavenly grace.

Is it wrong to suggest that the opening of the Holy of Holies in this marvelous manner by our Lord’s expiring cry was signifying the opening of the gates of paradise to all the saints by virtue of the Passion? Our bleeding Lord has the key of heaven; He opens and no man shuts; let us enter in with Him to the heavenly places and sit with Him there until our common enemies shall be made His footstool.

 

Charles Spurgeon – The uses of the law

 

“Wherefore then serveth the law?” Galatians 3:19

Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 26:12-16

I find that the proudest and most self-righteous people are those who do nothing at all, and have no shadow of pretence for any opinion of their own goodness. The old truth in the book of Job is true now. You know in the beginning of the book of Job it is said, “The oxen were ploughing, and the asses were feeding beside them.” That is generally the way in this world. The oxen are ploughing in the church —we have some who are labouring hard for Christ—and the asses are feeding beside them, on the finest livings and the fattest of the land. These are the people who have so much to say about self-righteousness. What do they do? They do not do enough to earn a living, and yet they think they are going to earn heaven. They sit down and fold their hands, and yet they are so reverently righteous, because they sometimes dole out a little in charity. They do nothing, and yet boast of self-righteousness. And with Christian people it is the same. If God makes you laborious, and keeps you constantly engaged in his service, you are less likely to be proud of your self-righteousness than you are if you do nothing. But at all times there is a natural tendency to it. Therefore, God has written the law, that when we read it we may see our faults; that when we look into it, as into a looking-glass, we may see the impurities in our flesh, and have reason to abhor ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, and still cry to Jesus for mercy. Use the law in this fashion, and in no other.

For meditation: The more we learn, the more we realise how little we know; the more we do, the more we realise how little we do; the holier we become, the more we realise how unholy we are. Being sluggish is most unsuitable for the Christian (Hebrews 6:10-12).

Sermon no. 128

19 April (1857)

John MacArthur – Thinking Biblically

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

God is concerned about the way you think. That’s why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). In Philippians 4:8 he instructs us to think about that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy.

When Jesus spoke of a pure heart in Matthew 5:8, He was talking about sanctified thinking. The Greek word translated “heart” is kardia, from which we get the word cardiac. While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders”; Matt. 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23).

In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions.

The Greek word translated “pure” in Matthew 5:8 means “to cleanse.” In the moral sense it speaks of being free from the filth of sin. It also refers to something that is unmixed, unalloyed, or unadulterated. Spiritual integrity and sincere motives are appropriate applications of its meaning to the Christian life.

Jesus was saying the kingdom citizen is blessed because he or she has pure thoughts and pure motives that together produce holy living. Someone might say he’s religious and has pure motives, but if his behavior isn’t righteous, his heart isn’t fixed on God. Similarly, you can go to church, carry a Bible, and recite verses, but if your heart isn’t clean, you haven’t met God’s standard.

You must do the will of God from a pure heart (Eph. 6:6). Toward that end, make David’s prayer yours as well: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Memorize Psalm 19:14 and make it a part of your daily prayers.

For Further Study:

Read the following verses, noting the characteristics of a pure heart: Psalm 9:1, 26:2, 27:8, 28:7, and 57:7.

Joyce Meyer – Avoid Worldly Competition

 

Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another. —Galatians 5:26

According to the world’s system, the best place to be is ahead of everyone else. Popular thinking would say that we should try to get to the top no matter who we have to hurt on the way up. But the Bible teaches us that there is no such thing as real peace until we are delivered from the need to compete with others.

Even in what is supposed to be considered “fun games,” we often see competition get so out of balance that people end up arguing and hating one another rather than simply relaxing and having a good time together. Naturally, human beings don’t play games to lose; everyone is going to do his best. But when a person cannot enjoy a game unless he is winning, he definitely has a problem—possibly a deep-rooted one that is causing other problems in many areas of his life.

We should definitely do our best on the job; there is nothing wrong with wanting to do well and advance in our chosen professions. But I encourage you to remember that promotion for the believer comes from God and not from man. You and I don’t need to play worldly games to get ahead. God will give us favor with Him and with others if we will do things His way (See Proverbs 3:3,4).

What God does for you or for me may not be what He does for someone else, but we must remember what Jesus said to Peter, “Don’t be concerned about what I choose to do with someone else—you follow Me” (see John 21:22).